Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Progression of a Criminal Law Case

Criminal defense consists of affording persons accused of a crime with the legal protections that they are entitled to under the United States and Missouri Constitutions and the laws of this state. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have extensive resources at their disposal to pursue criminal prosecutions. For that reason, and because a criminal offense often carries the potential of a lengthy incarceration, heavy fines, and other penalties, a favorable outcome of a criminal case at the Lake of the Ozarks often depends on representation by a qualified and experienced attorney.

Here are how a criminal law case will begin and proceed over time.


A criminal prosecution typically starts with an arrest by a police officer. There are a few reasons why a police officer may arrest a person. One case would be if the officer observes the person committing a crime. Another would be if the officer has a probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed by that person. Another situation would be if the officer makes the arrest under the authority of a valid arrest warrant. Once the arrest has occurred, the police will book the suspect and place them in custody. If only a minor offense was committed, there’s a chance that the police may issue a citation to the suspect with instructions to reappear in court at a set date.


If a suspect in police custody is granted bail, the suspect may pay the bail amount in exchange for a release. However, the release is contingent on the suspects promises to appear at the court proceedings that follow. Sometimes bail may be granted immediately after booking, or it could be at a later bail review hearing. A suspect could also be released on his own recognizance.

If a suspect is released on his own recognizance, bail is not required, but a written agreement to appear at all scheduled court dates is a requirement. Own recognizance release is generally granted after the court considers the seriousness of the offense that was committed, as well as the criminal record, threat to the community, and ties to family and employment.


This is where the suspect will make their first appearance at the arraignment. During this time, the judge will read the charges filed against the defendant in the complaint, and the defendant chooses to either plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest” to the charges. This is also when the judges will review the defendant’s bail and set dates for the future proceedings.

Preliminary Hearing

This could be by a “bill of information” secured by a preliminary hearing or by a grand jury indictment. Cases must be brought by indictment in the federal system, but states are free to use either process.

Pre-Trial Motions

Pre-trial motions are brought by the prosecution and the defense. The goal is to resolve all final issues and establish what evidence and testimony will be used in the trial.


At the trial, the judge or the jury will either determine that the defendant is guilty or not guilty. The prosecution will bear the burden of proof in a criminal trial. This means that the prosecutor has to prove without any doubt that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The defendant does have a constitutional right to a jury trial in many criminal matters. A judge or jury will make the final determination of guilt or innocence after listening to opening and closing statements, examination, as well as the cross-examination of witnesses and jury instructions.

In the case that a jury failed to come to a unanimous verdict, the judge could declare a mistrial, which means that the case will either be dismissed or a new jury will be chosen. Of course, if the judge or jury finds the defendant guilty, the court will then sentence the defendant.


At this point in a criminal case, the court will assign the appropriate punishment for the convicted defendant. To determine a suitable sentence, the court will then consider several factors. This could include several different factors, like the nature and severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s personal circumstances, as well as the degree of remorse that is felt by the defendant.


At long last, an individual convicted of a crime may ask that his or her case be reviewed by a higher court. If the court finds that there was an error in the case or the sentence imposed - the court may reverse the conviction or find that the case needs to be re-tried.

Criminal Defense at the Lake of the Ozarks

Gibbons Law Firm represents clients in all types of felony and misdemeanor cases. We have successfully tried hundreds of criminal cases of all types, and we are committed to providing clients with criminal defense services that will ensure their rights are protected and they are treated fairly. Find out more about how we can assist you by contacting our Firm and making an appointment today. Call for a free consultation - 573-348-2211

Remember, your initial consultation with Gibbons Law Firm is always free.

Your Trusted Legal Resource

Gibbons Law Firm
2820 Bagnell Dam Blvd, Suite B4
Lake Ozark, MO 65049

(573) 348-2211

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